What is Giftedness?
When you hear someone say that their child is Gifted, what do you imagine? Many may imagine a straight A student, a teacher's pet, curious but studious and high-achieving; someone who doesn't need additional support to succeed. Certainly a child who's withdrawn in class, acting out, has a disability or can't seem to concentrate isn't gifted, right? Or some might think that with the appropriate means ($$$) and resources any child can be "made gifted".
Quite the contrary. Giftedness is found in ALL demographics, in all socioeconomic backgrounds, all over the world. And many of these children are what we call twice-exceptional: they are gifted AND have at least one other exceptionality. This may include specific learning disabilities, speech and language disorders, emotional/behavioral disorders, physical disabilities, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or other impairments such as ADD/ADHD.
While some gifted children are high-achieving, studious, and self-directed, many become withdrawn or act out if they are not adequately challenged in the classroom. They think out-of-the-box, they question things (which may come across as defiance to an adult who doesn't appreciate being questioned), and they may have a vivid imagination (which unfortunately is not always welcomed).
Even those students who are seemingly well-adjusted and cruising through school with good grades may not be adequately challenged. When school comes too easily, a child may not learn resilience, healthy study habits, or place too much self-worth on those abilities that come naturally. Once those students encounter classes that are difficult and require more effort, they may feel stupid and give up, since they have not developed the skills to work hard and persevere when things don't come as naturally.
When a parent and/or teacher doesn't know the typical traits and characteristics of giftedness to look out for, the behaviors a gifted child exhibits can seem like a cause for concern. Sometimes it may be, and certainly early intervention for ASD, ADD/ADHD, or learning disabilities can be extremely beneficial for children. But the symptomatology of ASD and ADHD overlap greatly with giftedness. Conversely, if a child's high intellect is very apparent at an early age and is identified gifted, the giftedness may mask a disability making it hard for your child to receive the appropriate supports. You know your child best. You know if your child is struggling and needs additional support. We encourage you to find someone who can differentiate these childhood pathologies and test for IQ as well when evaluating your child, so that no exceptionality gets overlooked. Here's a great resource from the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) that lists the traits of giftedness to help you decide if gifted testing is something you'd like to pursue.
No two gifted children are exactly the same, as there are a wide arrange of factors that affect how their giftedness presents. If you suspect your child is gifted and need support and guidance, please reach out to us and we'll be happy to connect you with any resources you may need.
- NAGC states that “children are gifted when their ability is significantly above the norm for their age.”
- The state of Florida defines a gifted student as “one who has superior intellectual development and is capable of high performance.”
- The term twice-exceptional (also known as “2e”) is a term used to describe a gifted child who also has one or more disabilities.
- FLDOE: “A child who is twice-exceptional has disabilities and has met the gifted criteria.”